Ryan Pulock gets his shot Thursday night in Madison Square Garden. To stay in the lineup, Pulock will need to get some shots on net.
The 23-year-old defenseman with the big slap shot will make his season debut against the Rangers as Doug Weight searches for offense from his defensemen, who have yet to score a goal in six games this season.
Weight is also looking for a breakthrough on the Islanders power play, which is 0-for-20.
“There needs to be changes, whether it’s personnel, some structure and they have to have a freshness,” Weight said. “We’re starting anew. We could have won some games and we have to start contributing and we gave them some good structure today and some new looks and some new things that will fit our team better.”
Pulock worked as a second defenseman on the top unit with Nick Leddy, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee. The Islanders still had the same formation as they did when the top unit was four forwards, a 1-3-1 with Lee in front of the net and Leddy at the point, but Pulock looked to be trying to find the off-side circle one-timer — the Alex Ovechkin spot.
“Personally I like it because it gives me an opportunity to shoot the puck, that’s my strength,” Pulock said. “If I can find that spot, find some seams and get the puck, I just want to pound it on net. A lot of times, it’s either going in, or there’s a rebound and hopefully we can cash in on those.”
Nikolay Kulemin will be scratched on Thursday along with Anthony Beauvillier and Dennis Seidenberg, meaning Weight will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. The Isles coach has been reluctant to change his top six on defense, noting he’s liked their play at even strength. Pulock may be in the lineup as mostly a power-play specialist, but that may be enough to give the Islanders what they need in their first meeting of four this season against their rivals, who have stumbled out of the gate this season.
“The records have never really mattered when we play them,” Tavares said. “We know they’re a good team, a fast team and they’ve got great goaltending. There’s not much different about them.”
Notes & quotes: Jaroslav Halak gets the start in goal on Thursday. Halak is 7-3-0 in 10 starts against the Rangers as an Islander and has only lost once in seven starts against Henrik Lundqvist.